The Chairman, South-East Governors Forum and the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Umahi, has lent his support to the call for the establishment of State Police as a way of checking incessant intra and inter-State conflicts raging through all the nooks and crannies of the country.
Umahi made his feelings known on Tuesday at the Government House, Abakaliki when he received in audience the Minster of Interior, retired Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Dambazau.
Umahi, who frowned at the development where some highly placed individual employ policemen from Abuja to harass and intimidate indigenous people of Ebonyi State without recourse to the governor or the security formations in the State, added that the introduction of State Police would guarantee prompt response to disputes, especially at the rural communities, and curb unnecessary intimidation of the populace.
He said: “There are certain things we can’t take.
“Why do we have the Area Commands here, the divisional Police Offices?
“Why do we have the headquarters of Police in the State, the AIG at the zone?
“People can come in police uniforms who are nor real policemen to abduct our people.
“So, sir, if police are coming from Abuja, let the governor know.
“Otherwise, we will resist it.
“And that is why sir, the Honourable Minister, you may not like this: the Vice President has said it, we need State Police.
“This will solve a lot of the problems
“We need State Police.
“Ebonyi State is for State police because State Police is no more than the vigilante we are having, which is under the supervision of our security agencies.”
On the lingering boundary crises between the State and Cross River State, Umahi commended the National Boundary Commission for its efforts but regretted that it lacked adequate constitutional backing to enforce decisive actions in certain boundary disputes.
He suggested that that the NBC should look into the Instrument Lines and the State Claims and harmonize them as a way of finding solution to the dispute.
He also advocated political solution based on dialogue and consensus building, whereby traditional rulers would be employed to broker peace within and across their borders.
The Governor however regretted the continued evasive attitude of his Cross River State counterpart, Ben Ayade, towards amicable settlement of the crisis and appealed to the Minister to employ the powers and privileges of his office to get the Governor to a discussion table, adding that every problem comes with the seed of its own solution.
While commending President Muhammadu Buhari for his prompt response in sending the Minister for the fact finding mission, he also commended the security agencies in the state for their commitment to safety and peace.
He further thanked Dambazau for what he described as his “disposition to humanity” that continues to manifest in all his dealing with people, saying it is the kind of spirit required to bind, unite and move the country forward.
Umahi said: “The Crises according to available information dates back over 100 years ago but I believe that leaders are appointed by God for different purposes.
“So I believe we leaders now have been appointed to secure the lives of the defenceless women and children that are being slaughtered along those borders and so I have confidence in this movement, I have confidence in this efforts that this is possible
“We have made so many efforts to get the Government of Cross River to talk to us because I believe strongly that one of the reasons God brought me to leadership is to bring peace to those troubled areas.
“So If I am failing, I am failing God and He will not be happy with me but it takes two hands to clap.
“We would be asking you, sir, to get the second hand so we can clap and get this problem solved
“We are ready, Honourable Minister, to assist you to do whatever that will bring peace.
“So, I would like for you sir to direct that the Police here in Ebonyi should liaise with the Police in Cross River.
“Let them have a common denominator of dealing with this matter.
“They should be a kind of neutral people that should advice us and tell us what we should do because it is almost as if the attitude of the Police and the Department of State Services are reflection of the attitude of the Governments.
“But it shouldn’t be so.”
In his mission statement, Dambazau noted that he was in the State both in his capacity as the Interior Minister and also a member of the National Food Security Council to gather facts pertaining to the crisis, with a view to proffering permanent solution.
He decried the constant loss of human lives and properties in the area, adding that such crises have continued to pose great impediment to the National Food Security of the present Government.
The Minister, who said he had earlier visited Cross River State on acount of the crises, emphasised that his mission was not to apportion blames but to ensure that a lasting solution was identified.
He however, stressed that the solution cannot be found unless the concerned parties sit down to talk, discuss and identify all the factors, make deductions in order to arrive at sound conclusion.
Dambazau explained: “I am here because of the issues pertaining to the crises that have been going on, particularly the inter-state crises between this State and Cross River.
“So we need both sides to sit down and deal with the situation.
“The focus, the main objective is that man who is the victim and mostly as we have seen at the displaced persons camps, most of them are women and children.
“You need to see their conditions and we cannot allow this to continue to go on.”
Dambazau expressed optimism that the facts he had gathered in the mission coupled with the technical information accorded him by the Director-General of the NBC would be effectively utilized towards amicable settlement of the lingering crises.
While commending the Government of Ebonyi State for its obvious peaceful disposition to the crises, the Minister pledged the commitment of the Federal Government in resolving the crises.
Earlier, the Minister was led on an an inspection tour of the disputed boundary by the Deputy Governor, Kelechi Igwe, some members of the State Executive Council, Security Chiefs and the Director-General of the National Boundary Commission.
The Ebonyi-Cross River boundary dispute of over 100 years has remained a recurring decimal, especially during farming seasons.
Each time it erupts, the damages to human lives and property have always been colossal.
Many successive governments have tried to stem the tides to no avail.
It is believed by the majority of Ebonyi State people and their Cross River State counterparts that this move by the Minister is a right step towards the ultimate nailing of the boundary imbroglio.